MANDEL: Witnesses describe car racing through red light before crash

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Their stories were all virtually the same.

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One by one, as the Crown witnesses came into Brampton court Friday — whether in person or by Zoom — they told a similar tale of that tragic crash four years ago that killed newlywed Anam Laiq and severely injured her new husband Mander Virpal: a white car, they all testified, was speeding through a red light before the fatal collision.

They only differed when it came to what they saw the driver do next.

But what is not in contention is the horror that occurred in the car that was hit

Laiq, 30, died at the scene. Her 31-year-old husband broke both legs in the crash and would undergo five surgeries during his lengthy recovery. The Newmarket couple had married just eight days earlier.

Walid Wakeel, 23 at the time, turned himself into Peel Regional Police three days later.

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The Nobleton man has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily hurt, failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving death and failure two stops for an accident involving bodily harm inna judge-alone trial before Justice Irving Andre.

It was around 12:30 am on Oct. 21, 2018 and all the Crown witnesses agreed both Castlemore Rd. and Hwy. 50 in Brampton were clear and dry.

Driving east on Castlemore with his mother Gurdeep in his white Mercedes sedan, Raajan Neru said he was stopped at the red light at Hwy. 50 when he suddenly noticed a white Audi fly by on the inside lane at what he estimated to be 110 to 120 km/h.

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He then watched in horror as it T-boned another car.

“I don’t know why he didn’t see the light,” Gurdeep Neru would later tell the police in a statement.

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“I did say that,” she agreed through a Punjabi interpreter while under cross examination by Wakeel’s lawyer Greg Lafontaine.

“You were surprised that the vehicle went through the light and it was apparent to you that the driver had not seen the red light,” Lafontaine suggested. “There was a terrible accident, right? A very terrible accident?”

“Yes,” she replied, “the sound was very loud.”

But the Crown contends this was no mere “accident” that tragically stole the life of Laiq the day before she was to leave for her honeymoon.

Mariam Ayoub testified that she was driving a purple Smart car on Castlemore with her partner Matthew Borean and approaching Hwy. 50, she’d pulled into the right turn lane and slowed to a stop due to the red light.

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Ayoub was waiting for a break in traffic to make her turn, she said, when she heard a car “revving” in the lane beside her as it accelerated right past her and through the red light.

“I was a little bit taken aback because it was red,” Ayoub recalled. “And I thought, this is not what I should be hearing at this time.”

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She estimated the car was going between 75 and 90 km/h as it raced by her and entered the intersection.

The ensuing collision sent the white car onto Hwy. 50, she said. She then saw the driver exit the vehicle from the driver’s side and run in the direction of the gas station.

The man was wearing a hoodie and had a Mediterranean or South Asian complexion, she said.

Her partner, who called 911, said he saw the driver go out through the passenger side — which another couple witnessed as well. But under cross examination, neither Ayoub nor Borean saw him conversing with anyone before running from the scene.

On Thursday, witnesses Georgina Cocco and her husband David Avila described their conversation with a man Avila identified in court as Wakeel after they went to check if he was injured.

Avila testified that he thought he smelled alcohol on his breath and Wakeel kept repeating that he didn’t want them to call the police.

When told that they were probably on the way, Avila said the driver phoned someone and a few minutes later, he was picked up in a Honda Pilot and left the scene of the accident.

The trial continues Tuesday.

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